It’s funny this thing called motherhood. When Mr M and I first decided that we would start a family I naively assumed (as I’m sure every naive and fresh-faced parent does) that it would be this magical journey of cake baking, idyllic walks in the country and photo perfect memories surrounded by all my friends and family every step of the way. I think I can safely say six months in it definitely isn’t those things.
When I first found out I was pregnant the thought of it being two had never crossed my mind. Mr M had always wanted twins stating he thought “it would be amazing for them to grow up together” but neither of us really believed it would ever happen. I remember when I told my friends we were having two they thought it was hugely ironic that the girl who’d been the most anti-becoming a mum was the one with the multiples pregnancy. Naturally we did the obligatory things during pregnancy (led predominantly by me) – bought the family sized wagon, swapped exotic couples holiday brochures for family based activity camps and knocked half the house down (perhaps the last one was ill-advised?) We attended the parenting classes, where we met with “like-minded couples sharing this first journey into parenthood”, or as one of my friends referred to it – paid to make friends, and pray you didn’t have any slightly odd mums in the group you’d have to tolerate. Fortunately my parenting group mums turned out to be marvellously sane and normal (unless they’re thinking I’m the odd one in which case this is awks). You get told about pre-birth, birth, after birth but actually what nobody tells you and what maybe hit me the most is how lonely it can be becoming a first time mum.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy in my own company – there are times where I love it but I went from being an independent and fairly free-spirited individual to a full time mum to two babies who rely on me for absolutely everything. I love being their mum I really do and I wouldn’t change it for the world but the loss of nearly always having people to talk to or laugh with came as a bit of a shock. It’s easy to take for granted the fact that you can go to work and engage in a conversation with someone, however banal it is. It’s easy to under-estimate the freedom you have being able to jump on a train and meet your friends for a boozy lunch or decide to get away for the weekend just because you both can. When you can’t do those things as easily anymore it feels strange. Sometimes in the early days of being a mum I could go for hours and hours without speaking to anyone because there was nobody else there. I hadn’t been warned about this feeling of isolation. It felt odd. Uncomfortable. Depressing at times. It’s easy to take for granted how quick it is to jump into the car and drive somewhere when there’s only yourself to get up and ready. When there’s three of you to get ready, feed, pack for and get to your chosen destination suddenly you start to think “Is it worth making all this effort for a slightly stale muffin and a pretty crap tasting coffee?” It’s easy to start becoming a hermit and there have definitely been times where the energy required for me to achieve all those things I just listed have outweighed the potential benefits of having a chat with other exhausted mums or free-to-come-and-go friends. It’s not unusual now for the phone to vibrate a little less with messages suggesting meeting up, partly because I no longer have the time to send them and partly because it does feel sometimes that you’ve slipped from people’s minds. That’s life isn’t it really? We all like to think we’re the centre of everyone’s universe but often the reality is that other mums are just trying to get through each day feeling the same as me but not wanting to say.
I’m sure that as with all the new things accompanying having a baby (or babies in my case) this too shall pass. Once maternity leave finishes it’s easy to look back and think how wonderful it was but I do wish someone had warned me that it is hard not to feel isolated and dare I say miss your pre-kids life. Whilst so much of pregnancy focuses on the physical I wish I had focussed more on the mental. My advice now to all future mums is to find your tribe and keep them close. Make the effort. Find the energy. Be ok with missing what used to be when it was just the two of you and find your own way to embrace the change.
One is the lonliest number but remember that it makes up everything that comes after.